Living Carless in Jakarta

architecture auto automobiles bridge

Life without a car in Jakarta? Feasible, if you know the tricks.

There are times when a relative told me to go home by car on Ied el-Fitr. I am bothered a bit because I am no car person. I have no willingness to spend my money (and have no substantial money to purchase one) for a private car.

A car especially on Ied is something you have to show off to the relatives back home that you have really gained and massed financial success in the capital.

But I am no fan of pretentious lifestyle. So I completely ditched the idea of driving a car. Plus, I have no money to get me one in CASH. This is important because I believe very very strongly that purchasing in cash is the most possible way to buy something at a cheaper cost. I also get stress-free. I don’t have to calculate or think how to pay installments from month to month.

Upon learning that the domestic car sales have slumped 17.8% this year, I can tell you more and more people think the same way like I do. Or at least they put off getting a new car for various reasons.

Living without a private car in Jakarta where cars are anywhere to find is possible. Seriously possible. And I am not alone in fact. Some people living in Jakarta without having a private vehicle at all.

And I am no kidding because I have been living such carless life for more than 9 years!

How is this possible for me?

First, I have a strong determination that I want to have a decent lifestyle here, meaning living a life not beyond my means.

Buying a car means another source of expenditure. A car is a liability instead of an asset, unless I drive my car every single day as an online driver.

But hell no! I am a writer. What I do is sitting almost all day long. And thus what makes sense is I should invest in having a properly ergonomic work station, a functional laptop that would last as long as possible, super fast internet connection so I can literally work anywhere. Mobility by any private vehicles ( be it a motorcycle or a car) is never on the top of my list.

Certainly I have to move from a place to another but I am not on the wheel all the time. And I have no urgency to be very very punctual. But even if I do, I can manage my time better as I am a childless bachelor. Furthermore, I have less stuff to bring (minimalism helps) along for work. Being a single man in Jakarta is very very easy as opposed to a man with a large family and responsibilities on the shoulders and mind.

Having a personal car also means I have to sacrifice my time to take care of it. I must regularly go to an authorized service center and get it overhauled. This is important as I have literally no knowledge of machinery or mechanics or such thing so imagining I must repair a car by myself is way too wild even in my dream.

Living here without a car is, however, made less feasible if one has built a family, no matter how small it is. Living with a spouse means one has at least can go together on a single ride. And that means the demand of getting a car is escalating. Everything is more practical – though not necessarily more economical – with a private car ready in a garage.

So when someone asks me if I should get a car now, I still clench my opinion firmly. Not for now!

Besides, seeing and drowning every single day in the massive deluge of Jakarta traffic, which some expats say “legendary”, is already overwhelming to me. I am still staying away from being part of the problem that is known to trigger climate change.

What do you think of not having a private car or motorbike in a big city like Jakarta? Is it even possible? Because I feel that that is so possible. (*/)

man walking on road under the sun

Walking in Jakarta may not be a pleasant experience but all you need is picking the right time to walk. (Photo source:

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